Our Burning Planet


Extinction Rebellion’s Malik Dasoo among climate activists carried out of Electricity Minister’s university lecture

Extinction Rebellion’s Malik Dasoo among climate activists carried out of Electricity Minister’s university lecture
Activists who interrupted Minister of Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa from giving a keynote address about the energy crisis at the University of Pretoria, included Extinction Rebellion climate activists Rehad Desai, third from left, and Malik Dasoo, who is holding the Extinction Rebellion flag. (Photo: Dorothy Mabelebele)

Climate activists interrupted Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa’s public lecture on energy sovereignty at the University of Pretoria on Friday, calling for him to reduce his salary and give the rest to residents in Vereeniging.

“I have news for you, Mr Ramokagopa, there is no transition happening,” Extinction Rebellion climate activist Malik Dasoo said, as he interrupted the Minister of Electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, from delivering a public lecture energy at the University of Pretoria on Friday morning. 

Dasoo was referring to the Just Energy Transition, which aims to accelerate South Africa’s move away from coal in a way that protects vulnerable workers and communities.

“And the PCC who was brought in to do it, after three years has done nothing. It’s a talk shop and a money pit,” Dasoo said, referring to the Presidential Climate Commission, a multi-stakeholder body established by President Cyril Ramaphosa to “oversee and facilitate a just and equitable transition towards a low-emissions and climate-resilient economy”. 

The public lecture – titled Energy Sovereignty in the Context of the Sustainable and Just Energy Transition – was organised by the UN Development Programme, in partnership with the PCC, the University of Johannesburg and the University of Pretoria, under the banner of the Just Energy Transition Platform.

Dasoo and several other Extinction Rebellion climate activists interrupted the lecture and stood in front of the podium, and then sat down when the Minister stood one side. They were eventually carried out of the lecture theatre by security.

“We are tired of your promises. We are tired of big coal determining our future. We want a real response,” Extinction Rebellion activist Rehad Desai said from the floor of the lecture theatre before being carried out by security.

“We disrupted this event to say that there is no legitimacy in our government departments or the Presidential Climate Commission,” Dasoo said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘There’s no belief people will benefit’ — Mpumalanga mining communities’ deep mistrust of just transition

“Mr Ramaokopa earns R2.4-million a year in his salary.What has he done to improve electricity access in this country?” Dasoo asked the audience before being carried out of the theatre.

Dasoo said the PCC was “a talk shop that has sucked millions of rands into exorbitant salaries, overseas trips and conferences. It has delivered nothing to the 500 victims of the KZN rainbombs last year. 

“There is no compensation for these families and no plan to mitigate the risks people will face from drought, extreme heat, disease, famine and floods. It is an illegitimate institution sold to the public to gaslight us into thinking that the Presidency is doing something.”

Dasoo said later that two hours after they were removed by security, they received a call from the Presidency asking for a meeting with them, which he said should happen in the next week. 

“In that meeting we will have one demand,” Dasoo said. “That Ramakgopa drops his salary to R25,000 a month and gives the rest to the residents of Vereeniging, who two weeks ago experienced the worst air quality in the world. 

“He must do so until the people of Orange Farm have access to reliable renewable energy to take them out of energy poverty.”

As Dasoo has emphasised in the past, when he was removed from Standard Bank headquarters in Rosebank in June after protesting against the bank’s involvement in the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (Eacop), “disruptive action is our best response”. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Kumi Naidoo forcibly removed from Standard Bank HQ after protest over crude oil pipeline project

Daily Maverick reached out to the Presidency for comment but is still awaiting a response. However, after the activists were removed from the lecture theatre, Ramokgopa addressed the audience saying: “I do make the point that, of course, there are varying views in this conversation. 

“And I think the worst injustice we can make to the conversation is not to allow ourselves to listen to views that are different from ours.

“Because I think in the quest to find a solution, it is important that we are very tolerant to other views that might not be consistent with our views.” DM

Absa OBP

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    Disruptive action is necessary, especially when cries for justice go unheeded, but it can’t justify violence. The state’s violence towards those with different views to it causes 2200 preventable deaths in Mpumulanga per year from asthma and related medical conditions, with little or no health interventions for the people most affected because they live closest, are poorest and are least represented in any debate about violence. Violence doesn’t have to wield sticks to be violence or violation; ask any woman. It’s women’s month!

  • Andrew Johnson says:

    What do XR have to offer apart from Fascist actions and chants.

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